There are many types of addiction. Frequently, it is presumed that a physical dependency accompanied by symptoms of withdrawal must be present to constitute an addiction. However, certain behaviors can trigger highly addictive responses. This phenomenon is known as process addiction.
While process addictions might not cause chemical intoxication, they fundamentally alter the brain’s reward response and impulse control mechanisms. Process addiction disorder can make a person compulsively engage in addictive behavior even when the consequences are severe.
What is a Process Addiction?
The compulsive aspect of certain behaviors is the most noteworthy indication of process addiction. A person who repeatedly engages in activities that continually result in dire consequences is suffering from process addiction. Although the behavior might trigger a neurological reward response initially, a feeling of overwhelming guilt and shame often follows later, particularly if the behavior caused real harm.
Like substance use disorder, process addiction must be addressed therapeutically for the best chances of recovery. A person breaking free of a process addiction can experience excellent outcomes with targeted treatment.
Process addictions can involve a variety of behaviors/activities, but the following are the most common:
- Online gaming/video games
- Plastic surgery
The average person partakes in many of the above activities regularly without experiencing addiction. Shopping, exercising, eating, and sex are normal and even enjoyable. However, enjoying engaging in a particular activity on a semi-regular or regular basis doesn’t necessarily indicate an addiction. The following conditions must be present to qualify as a process addiction:
- Inability to cease the addictive behaviors despite those behaviors directly resulting in the deterioration of mental and physical wellbeing.
- Hiding the behaviors from loved ones and associates for fear of judgment or negative consequences.
- Failing to perform at work or school or neglecting personal responsibilities because of the addictive behaviors.
- Continuing to engage in addictive behavior despite experiencing adverse financial consequences. (For example, losing savings, a car, or home as a result of gambling debt, and continuing to gamble, nonetheless.)
Treatment can be an effective tool for those struggling with process addictions. Through comprehensive, targeted treatment, people struggling with process addictions can begin to rebuild their lives and successfully address the conditions that contribute to their disorder.
What Causes Certain Behaviors to Become Addictive?
Activities that elicit an immediate pleasure sensation are more likely to lead to addiction than neutral activities. The feeling of satisfaction and wellbeing is a chemical response not unlike what people experience after consuming intoxicating substances. If a person comes to rely upon the surges of mood-elevating dopamine from gambling to alleviate anxiety, the behavior could become an addiction. Additionally, people who have a co-occurring disorder – depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder – might be more vulnerable to process addiction than people who do not struggle with mental health issues.
The Alpine Recovery Lodge Process Addiction Treatment
Treatment for process addictions involves intensive therapeutic intervention. Quite a few treatment plans that help people with substance use disorder are effective programs for process addiction. Interventions might involve:
- In-depth mental health counseling
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Targeted treatment for co-occurring psychological disorders and possible substance misuse
At the Alpine Recovery Lodge, we prioritize wellness of the mind, body, and spirit. Our treatment programs are designed to meet the patient’s individual needs while addressing every facet of physical and emotional health.
Addiction doesn’t have to define you – we can help you enhance your health and happiness. Call the caring team at the Alpine Recovery Lodge at 801-901-8757 today.